Friday, October 30, 2015

Free film screening of "The Guy With the Knife" next Thursday evening

Those of you living in Texas in 1991 may remember the high profile case of Houston banker Paul Broussard, a gay man, who was killed in the Montrose neighborhood in an apparent hate crime.  The case galvanized the gay community, and local activist Ray Hill helped generate substantial media attention to the crime in an effort to identify and prosecute the killers.  Eventually, a group of teenagers from The Woodlands were charged in the crime.  One member of the group, a 17-year old named Jon Buice, was identified as "the guy with the knife" who actually stabbed Broussard.  While most of the teens received probation or relatively light sentences, Buice pleaded guilty and received a 45-year sentence in a plea bargain agreement.

Shortly after Buice was convicted, Ray Hill--the activist who helped put Buice in prison--befriended him and, over time, came to believe that this was not a hate crime at all.  Buice grew into a model inmate, obtained college degrees, and gained the support of many in the gay community as he went up for parole.  But the victim's family, spurred on by the efforts of Houston victims' advocate Andy Kahan, fought his release.  A positive parole vote was rescinded a few years ago following some intriguing twists and turns.

Canadian filmmaker Alison Armstrong has now made a compelling documentary about the case called "The Guy With the Knife."  The film, which has won awards at several film festivals, raises fascinating questions about the influence of the media in criminal cases, about how much punishment is enough, and about the nature of forgiveness.  And it presents unsettling information about injustices in the case that have not previously been brought to light.

The film is screening for free at the LBJ School of Public Affairs on Thursday, November 5, at 7 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm).  Admission is free, but you must register at this site, which has more details about the event.  Following the film, there will be a panel discussion moderated by LBJ senior lecturer Michele Deitch with filmmaker Alison Armstrong, journalism prof Michael Berryhill, and Houston LGBT activist Maria Gonzalez.  Some of the subjects from the film will also be in attendance.

RELATED: See Michael Berryhill's essay on this case from 2013.

Grits' note: This is the inaugural post from Michele Deitch, an attorney and senior lecturer at the UT-Austin LBJ School and another of the terrific new folks I've asked to join me writing on Grits. Michele's impressive depth of experience on criminal justice issues dates to her stint as a full-time monitor for the federal court in the Ruiz case, which means she's been at this even longer than me! At the Texas Legislature, Michele is a trusted voice both on juvie and prison condition issues. I'm grateful she's agreed to do this.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making a great blog even better Michele.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all you do for justice!

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Thank You Ma'am for helping

He's Innocent said...

Thanks for lending a hand Michelle! Scott's new position has curtailed posts, sadly.

Your insight, and hopefully snark too, will be a welcome addition.

(Don't get me wrong on Scott's job..... we need him where he's at. Does not mean we cant lament the split of his time)